Ladybug Ladybug (1963) Cold War Nuclear Missile Threat From Frank and Eleanor Perry

A nice quiet rural elementary school on the outskirts of the countryside was busy just having a normal day. At the back of the Principal’s sat a device. It featured four different alphabet codes. One had suddenly lit-up and started emitted a dreadful high-pitched tone. Soon the Principal is calmly trying to decipher the code. Three teachers look on. “What does the Y symbol mean Mr Calkins?” one asked as he skimmed through the manual. With a slight baffled break in his voice he calmly says “Nuclear missile attack in one hour!“.

Now this was the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis. The air raid warning alarm system had been fitted as a precautionary measure. They would have weekly drills to evacuate the building and decide the next course of action. This would require lining up in the playground alongside their assigned teacher and therefore return to class when the test threat was over. However, this time it seemed real. With no response from constant phone calls to verify the warning threat, the Principal had no other choice but to send the children home. Each teacher would walk their class across the countryside roads as they passed each pupils homestead.

Tagline – Powerful! Fascinating! Startling! A Shocker!

Time was ticking. How much time had passed already? Fifteen minutes? Twenty minutes? Mrs Andrews (Nancy Marchand) the math teacher had wore the wrong shoes today. She was in heels and her feet where gonna hurt. It didn’t matter. She was broken. You could see on her face the realisation that she and everyone around her was likely to be vaporised in forty odd minutes. She looked straight forward and marched on ahead with the ten or so children of varying ages following behind. They knew the threat. The constant drills and radio reports had embedded the terrifying thought of death by bombs and explosions. They chatted among themselves. Who’s had a bomb shelter? A cellar or a basement. Would the basement be deep enough to withstand the blast? Who was home to tell, to warn? As they passed by their homes they would run with their imagination running wild. Fear and adrenaline racing.

Back at the school the heavily pregnant secretary Betty (Kathryn Hays) wanders the art class in a daze of confusion. Her perfect dreams of starting a family was soon to be wiped from the earth in a flash. The thought of such destruction was inconceivable. Meanwhile the dinner-lady Mrs Maxton (Jane Connell) was tasked with filling water canisters with one of the young students left behind. Confused by all the jars of water, why, he inquisitively asked. Back in his office, Principal John tried to keep it together, constantly trying to get through on the phone. Surely someone should know something? The clock is ticking! If you were to look at your watch, now maybe twenty five minutes to destruction? What would you do?

This is a terrifying somber paced melodrama. You ponder the horrific situation with them. Each kid runs off to tell their family of the incoming bombs. Petrified out of their young minds. Wishing to save their loved ones. There’s been no announcement on the radio, every one is oblivious to possible destruction. The kids sing songs as they walk the path of the unknown. Mrs Andrews is at the end, she is beside herself. Imminent death is just moments away? Tick tick tick…

Ladybug Ladybug fly away home,
Your house is on fire,
Your children shall burn!

Imagine if that actual happened? Shocking as it might sound, it has, and on way to many occasions. Ladybug Ladybug is said to have been inspired by the real events in an article that had appeared in a magazine publication called McCall’s the year before the film. Astonishingly it’s horrifying to remember back to one that only happened very recently!

In 2018 the island of Hawaii was thrown into unnecessary pure terror when a text message was received by many warning of an immediate missile attack! WTF! For real! A false missile alert sent across the island by television and radio broadcasts to messages sent to directly to mobile phones. The alert advised residents to seek shelter, and concluded: “This is not a drill“. It wasn’t until thirty eight minutes later that the threat was deemed false! 38 minutes of blind panic.

What Ladybug Ladybug does so well is the portrayal of the stressful blind paranoia and psychological effects heightened by the constant threat of all out nuclear war of the Cold War. An unseen enemy always looming ready to start the destruction of the world. The young cast are fantastic with their innocent wide eyed imagination of the terror they are about to face. Writer and director couple Frank and Eleanor Perry really get the most out of their inexperienced cast which includes film debuts from William Daniels who will be know to millions as the voice of the electronic talking car KITT the buddy to David Hasselhoff in the TV cult classic Knight Rider. Also the actress playing the Math Teacher on the long walk is Nancy Marchand who would become Livia the mother to the one and only Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini).

Ladybug Ladybug has become the fourth film I’ve reviewed from the work of Frank and Eleanor Perry’s which included their debut film, the psychological drama, David and Lisa (1962) The holiday vacation drama Last Summer (1969) and best of all, in my honest opinion, The Swimmer (1968) with Burt Lancaster. There remains two I need to see before they parted ways from each other, Trilogy (1969) and Diary of a Mad Housewife (1970). The duo were so very talented together, that’s for sure.

Ladybug Ladybug is on YouTube here to stream at time of writing if you wanted to see it.

So remember to use the wise words of Bert the Turtle and DUCK and COVER as it will help save you when the nuclear blast hits!!!!! DOH!

All the best and happy viewing hehe.

Mikey

Rebel Without a Cause (1955) Confession, Preconception And My Punishment.

Here’s some random waffle from your friendly movie blog host Mikey Wolfman and a review, of sorts, for Rebel Without a Cause. I do hope you are sitting down, not because the length of the upcoming ramblings but for the shock horror factor that this here “movie fan” had never seen it! Insert blood curdling death scream here. Then, if I may, I’ll try and explain my unforgivable sins and let you decide my fate. Feel free to pick one.

  • 30 minutes on the naughty step.
  • Stand in corner with dunces hat on for one hour.
  • The stock’s for a day with rotten fruit of your choice.
  • Medieval stretching table.
  • Electric chair.

OK the last few might be over kill! To be honest I don’t really know the proper punishment for this atrocity so feel free to make your own up. “I don’t why I’m making up my own but what about packing me, a tight squeeze I know, what with my middle-aged furry frame, into a cannon and blasting me into space? Just a thought“. Anyhow here we go…

Court In Session – In My Defence

You see with a film so famous, especially one steeped in popular culture, I find you can build such a picture in your mind that you feel you’ve actually seen something. References fill film magazines and books with iconic images of the young heartthrob James Dean. We all remember the movie posters, slightly off-centre, stuck with small thumb indented blobs of Blu-Tack on student digs walls in our youth. Then later, trying to be cool, fixed in fancy glass frames in hipsters loft apartments. Large format images showcasing this dashingly handsome young man with his futurist, at the time, flicked back quiff. A blood red jacket strikes a dazzling image draped over a white vest adding to that look of danger in his eyes. If James Dean image wasn’t enough to show this rebellious nature, pushed to entice both female and male fans then adding the muscle car of the 1949 Mercury Coupe would surely bring awe and wonder.

So that poster with James Dean portrayal of Jim Stark was not only uber cool and stylish it also conjured up all sorts of ideas about the content of the film. It had me thinking Jim Stark was a tough chain-smoking kid who rebelled against the system. A thuggish menace to society. A juvenile delinquent and all-round troublemaker. It was in the title, Rebel and he didn’t even have a cause to be one! Preconceived ideas that when I eventually sit down and watch it I’m shocked by how completely different James Dean’s depiction of Jim Stark is? It couldn’t be further from that image that I’d had in my mind all those years.

The narrative focus of Rebel Without a Cause is on the fateful, crossing paths, of three young characters. Teenagers with crashing hormonal changes racing through their young bodies driving them with confusing emotions. Desperate to understand their place in society. The need, desire, to have parental help, for something so simple as just plain advice. Our three protagonists all have this natural flaw which is magnified by the changing dynamics in their lives. Which alienates them, pushes them to the fringes of society, to become misfits. Yet, all they desire, is to fit in.

Whether it’s the desperate need for a father figure, or the love of a father. Baffled with life after the loss of both parental guidance and craving for any love, family, brotherly or otherwise. All three characters have deep flaws but can they be rescued before society casts them out?

Lets meet the three stars.

Jim Stark (James Dean)
Jim drinks and smokes whilst aloof with a brash and unpredictable temperament but under that red jacket is a fundamental caring and sensitive young man yearning to fit in, to have friends. He has a normal family. His mother, Carol (Ann Doran), is a little overbearing while his father, Frank (Jim Backus), loves him ever so much. However, he will never punish him, reprimand him. While he brings Jim tea dressed in his kitchen apron, Jim loathes his inability to stand up to his nagging wife or scream or yell some wisdom at him. To man up!

Judy (Natalie Wood)
Turning sixteen should be a joyous event. Anything different hadn’t ever crossed Judy’s mind. She was happily going about her life in what seemed the perfect nuclear family. Loving mother, cheeky little brother and her beloved Dad (William Hopper). Like many father daughter bonds they can be special but suddenly and unexpectedly kissing her father good morning was no longer allow. The love he’d shown had turned to strict sternness. She was now considered an adult and with it came a one sided barrier between them. Judy was distraught. She thrived for that love.

John “Plato” Crawford (Sal Mineo)
Plato has it the hardest. Well, he actually lives in a giant house filled with wealth. He also has a housekeeper (Marietta Canty) who dotes after him. However, he’s all alone and confused. Expected to grow up too soon. His father left when he was young and his mother is nowhere to be seen. Thought’s inside his mind twist and turn. He struggles with his sexuality, he desires to be grounded. All he really wants is the closeness of a loving family. Anxious and traumatised Plato tries to deals with life the best way he can, in a slightly manic way.

My thoughts on film and my final defence.

So you see, a films legacy can be altered by perceived expectations, unconsciously or otherwise. Like I say pop culture can have a big part in this, the trailer can be edited to show a different tale all together, the promotion poster may fail to show the hidden tender side or a sensitive manner. Join them all together with the films misleading title and there you go, a film’s preconception changed in 66 years, well in my head anyway.

Tagline – Teenage terror torn from today’s headlines

It’s a brilliant film with a strange and sad legacy with the tragic young violent real deaths of all three actors and not to mention a controversial behind the scenes production with the, I’ll get my kicks where ever I can, director Nicholas Ray. All three performances are first rate, especially when watching knowing that James Dean had died just a month before the cinema release. For me, I’d say, Sal Mineo’s Plato steals the show. Every time he appears on screen you feel the unpredictable nature to him and those wide open innocent longing eyes will break your heart.

Yep it took me a long time to finally see this film. To be honest I sometimes feel I appreciate them more in my older years. Especially looking back whilst doing my little blog post write up. I thoroughly enjoyed it and best of all was discussing it with my daughter who’d recently watched it and was about to embark on an essay for University. Proper adult writing, no talk of medieval torture devises or other forms of corporal punishment. So I leave you to decide my fate. Which punishment I deserve or will you have leniency with my plea?


So whats next on the preconception smashing watch list? Should it be Marlon Brando in The Wild One (1953) because that is all homoerotic and set in The Blue Oyster Bar from Police Academy isn’t it? And I’m sure I read that the Village People have a cameo? Yep you guessed it, I’m larking around!

Thanks for having a read and you are most welcome to comment if you wish.

Keep on watching that wonderful squared screen. All the best.

Mikey Wolfman…

What’s Been Watched This Month – November 2021

Here’s what square eyed Mikey Wolfman been watching throughout November 2021.

Hey it’s almost Christmas and of course Die Hard is a festive film? Right? Haha the old ancient debate to get people fired up with seasonal joy. No, that’s not my movie cinema room, but man-o-man I so wish it was! So on to the film section below. You’ll see it took a beating this month as I stuck with some series to get my subscription fees paid for. As usual there were actually more films watched, one big one in fact that I hadn’t seen before and it might cause an upset!!!. I’m half way through a review for it so hopefully that will be next and you can decide my fate!! Anyhow Christmas is around the corner and I’m so excited to be having some family time and movie time. Bring it on and an early Christmas cheer to you.

The TV

Arcane… Perfection! Well I thought so. This one sneaked in from Netflix. Based on an online battle arena game called League of Legends. Yep me neither. Like with most game to film they rarely work. Going down the series avenue has given them the time to flesh out a story. I’ve know idea if it’s related to the game in anyway but I will say they smashed it out the park for sure. The animation is beautiful and very creative, the story arc’s thoughtfully achieved, characters you care for, whether good or bad. Plus the perfect editing to enhanced some truly emotion moments. The first 3 episodes are a story arc in themselves. So if you didn’t like it at that point, then move along. You would miss a deep poetic final episode though. Highly recommended if that’s your thing or maybe not…

Foundation… I grabbed a AppleTV subscription for a couple of months to watch this as I’m a massive science fiction head. Was very excited for this. The first episode was pretty epic. Then, unfortunately it got lost in it’s own psychobabble. I stayed with it and did enjoy many aspects of it. Another thing that let it down was the acting, or maybe the dialogue could be blamed. The ships and general space effects were first rate but then, occasionally out the blue, it looked cheap. I did love the idea of Empire and three generation of clones, it’s a great concept. Lee Pace was in ham overload at times but I was ok with it. The main problem was it never really went anywhere and you just didn’t care when it got to the end. I’ve never read Isaac Asimov’s book series so I can’t say anything on that. I do hope, if they do make a second series, that they introduce more from the robots and jazz things up. But putting slightly moany Mikey to the side, I love sci-fi and was just happy watching space stuff on the screen. All roads lead to The Expanse final season next week, I can’t wait, now that’s a sci-fi epic saga!!

Ted Lasso… Getting my sub dues in working my way through the American football coach, Jason Sudeikis, out of his depth, managing a British football Premiership team in London. It’s a comedy with a pure heart of gold. Always takes a nice left turn. The first series was brilliant. The second follows very closely but just doesn’t keep hitting. It’s very enjoyable and filled with that feel good factor and keeps to the trusted formula, well there’s one curve-ball episode! It’s a real oddity. You’ll know it when it comes. It’s like when Guy Ritchie, after his winning formula of films decided to try something different, Revolver (2005). OK that could of been pure creative genius, it certainly blew a few peoples minds. Well that episode is like that, they try a real random one shot episode that is either genius, a Lynchian effort or just a pile of bollocks. You’ll be pleased to know they go straight back into normal mode after the surreal detour.

The Films

10 films this month and a total of 153 this year
1088 since the start of the blog in January 2017.

Four Hours at the Capitol (2021) – Wolfman Rating 8.5 – IMDB Rating 6.8
Good God that was truly insane. Pure horror show!!!! The press photos etc at the time didn’t show the World War Z zombie style attacks the poor cops had to endure. Shocking footage and extremely tense documentary using footage from the attackers themselves! It’s a miracle there weren’t more deaths! This doc was just missing one thing?… John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 soundtrack!

Cast a Dark Shadow (1955) – Wolfman Rating 8.5 – IMDB Rating 7
Ooo I do love a good Dirk Bogarde film. This British Film Noir has him in his, quite often, usual dastardly fashion. You can read my review of Cast a Dark Shadow here and see what he’s up to this time?

Blithe Spirit (1945) – Wolfman Rating 8.5 – IMDB Rating 7.1
Rex Harrison and his second wife Constance Cummings are haunted by the ghost of his first wife Kay Hammond. It’s a wonderfully fun and very entertaining film version of a Noel Coward play directed by David Lean. And without doubt, the true star of the film is Margaret Rutherford playing a truly potty local mystic medium to the perfection. Just watching every minute she is on screen is a pure delight. Very recommended.

Finch (2021) – Wolfman Rating 7 – IMDB Rating 7.1
You get two Will Smith films, I, Robot and I Am Legend. Mix in Denzel doing The Book of Eli and roll those three into one Tom Hanks movie doing Castaway in an apocalypse with a robot Borat and a dog. AppleTv new science fiction movie is actually ok if not instantly forgettable with it’s dash of middle of the road. Still a good sit back and watch Tom gurning and interacting with a robot instead of his old friend Wilson.

The Forgotten Battle (2020) – Wolfman Rating 7 – IMDB Rating 7.1
This is an ambitious Dutch production of The Battle of the Scheldt. A lesser know battle but still a very important piece of the war effort as the Allied advancement tries to liberate the Scheldt estuary from German occupation. In doing so it would free up the supply line from the Belgium shipping lane of Antwerp. The Forgotten Battle loosely plays on the theme of Dunkirk with using three main character story arcs to follow through the film. It’s a very good film though something lacked giving it an emotional wallop. Tom Felton aka Draco Malfoy does a great David Niven impression btw.

My Beautiful Laundrette (1985) – Wolfman Rating 7.5 – IMDB Rating 6.8
A British comedy drama with gay love between the laundry machines and soap suds with Daniel Day-Lewis in an early role. What could be going on you may ask? You could read my review of My Beautiful Laundrette here and probably not learn much but hey that’s how it works at the house of Wolfman’s Cult Film!

The Big Caper (1957) – Wolfman Rating 7 – IMDB Rating 6.4
We all love a good bank heist film don’t we? One thing for sure is you gotta have a good gang. You can meet them on my The Big Caper review here

Lucy, the Human Chimp (2021) – Wolfman Rating 7.5 – IMDB Rating 7.3
This really should be called Janis Carter, the Human Chimp. She really is a remarkable woman. After two psychologist’s, stupidly raise a baby chimpanzee called Lucy as an experiment to see what will happen if she’s only taught life being a human daughter. When young student Janis replies to a job advert and is introduced into the family group it will change her life path… forever.

Cube (1997) – Wolfman Rating 8 – IMDB Rating 7.2
Low budget but highly imaginative Canadian science fiction horror. Six complete strangers with widely varying personalities are involuntarily placed in an endless maze containing deadly traps. I saw this when it was first released and loved it. Been meaning to revisit it for years. I managed to get my son sat down to join me in the boxed madness. A sequel was released called Cube 2 Hypercube (2002) which I recall liking however I never knew there was a prequel called Cube Zero (2004). Both sequels don’t get great reviews but the original is ace and worth watching if you get the chance. In a strange turn of events, I just noticed that there’s a recent Japanese remake just released this month! Cube (2021)

Another Man’s Poison (1951) – Wolfman Rating 7 – IMDB Rating 7
A mystery writer, Bette Davis, becomes involved in a tangled web of murderous deception not unlike the plots of her novels. Gary Merrill brings some mystery to the story and Emlyn Williams playing a doctor who can’t help but stick his nosey neighbour sniffer in the mix. I had high hopes for this one. It is good and has some fine moments but it just doesn’t quite hit. Always good to see Bette Davis but her acting is at times over the top.

——————————————————————————————————————–

Thanks for popping on by my humble little movie site. Please stay safe.

Any goodies in there you have seen and liked? Thoughts, recommends etc always welcome if you fancy too.

Keep watching the screens. Thanks for having a look to see what’s been watched. All the best……… The howling one, Mikey